OC appoints interim chief

Oil City has a new police chief to succeed Bob Wenner as the city’s top law enforcement agent.

David A. Ragon, a longtime city police officer and a native of Oil City, was named to the post by city council at a meeting Thursday.

He will serve as interim police chief for what city manager Mark Schroyer described as “an undetermined time” until council decides whether to name him to a permanent post or reopen interviews for the job.

Ragon takes over the post today, which is Wenner’s retirement date.

The 1981 Oil City High School graduate served seven years in the U.S. Army in a special operations unit. Among his numerous responsibilities in the service were to work with electronic warfare systems, to establish continuity on the insurgent/counter-insurgent operational environment for an area in Central America, and to oversee classified documents related to national defense.

Ragon, who has completed courses at Penn State University, the Pennsylvania Police Academy at Mercyhurst College, the Police Science Institute and U.S. Army schools, previously worked as a campus safety officer at the University of Pittsburgh campus in Titusville.

He joined the Oil City Police Department in 1995 and has held supervisory positions, managed the department fleet, served on the city safety team, conducted investigations, written grants and been a labor negotiator.

Council’s vote to approve Ragon for the chief’s job was unanimous.

City Manager Mark Schroyer said seven city policemen were interviewed for the chief’s job. Ragon was chosen, he said, on the basis of “his experience, background, resume and ideas.”

The city manager also noted there may be some upcoming vacancies in the department, and testing for new officers and promotions of current officers are being planned.

Firefighters new contract

Schroyer told council that a new labor contract with the city’s firefighters union is in the works. The current contract expires at the end of this year.

“We have an agreement in principle,” he said. “The economics are fair and an offer will be made to them for ratification. It’s a fair deal for the city and the firefighters, and I’m glad the guys worked with us.”

In other matters:

– Council appointed Maureen James to the city’s Redevelopment Authority.

– A request from city firefighter Chad Berry to rescind his earlier letter announcing his retirement was accepted by council.

– Council authorized Schroyer to advertise for bids to purchase property and buildings in a section of the city’s industrial park at Siverly. The property is used by SMS Millcraft that has an operating facility on the site.

– A contract with Creditech, an affiliate of Berkhemier & Associates tax collection agency, was approved by council. The company will handle the collection of delinquent bills for water, sewage, garbage and recycling within the city.

– The Oil Region Indie Fest committee was given the OK to hold its 12th annual Oil Region Indie Music Festival on June 8 in the city’s North Side business district. The outdoor music venue and street fair will be held on Seneca Street, which will be closed to vehicular traffic.

– Council approved the purchase of a condemned house at 2 High St. The city, which purchased the property for $1 out of the county’s Land Bank, will demolish the building.

– The city’s Community Development Block Grant program will be tweaked to add funding for a 2019 project to pave all of Bissell Avenue. Kelly Amos, director of the city’s community development department, said about $26,000 left from a 2015 paving fund will be added to 2018 monies for the work.

The $175,794 reconstruction work will be done on Bissell from Manning Street to Plummer Street.

– Council approved a request to advertise for bids to repair the roof on the Central Avenue fire station. The project is estimated to cost between $90,000 to $100,000 with funds already included in the city budget, said Schroyer.